Officer in beating video faced prior complaints


The video that shows a Henderson police sergeant repeatedly kicking a man who was suffering a diabetic episode during a 2010 traffic stop sent shock waves across the valley.

But a few Henderson residents were not surprised that Sgt. Brett Seekatz was the officer whose swift right and left kicks shook up leadership within his agency, left taxpayers on the hook for almost $300,000 and outraged the public.

Two Henderson residents told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month that they filed separate complaints against Seekatz two years ago.

In one complaint, a woman said Seekatz falsified a police report and jeopardized custody of her daughter. Henderson police deemed her complaint un­substantiated.

"He definitely doesn't deserve the taxpaying wage I contribute to," said complainant Nikki Bott.

In the second complaint, a man alleged that Seekatz "lied on the stand" and got him convicted of a misdemeanor, a claim that also was not substantiated by an internal Henderson police investigation.

Requests for comment from Seekatz made through a Police Department spokesman were not returned.

A DOMESTIC CONFLICT

Only a few weeks after Seekatz was caught on camera kicking a motorist, Bott had her own encounter with the sergeant on Nov. 19, 2010.

Bott and her now ex-husband, a Henderson police officer, were going through a divorce.

The Botts' 9-year-old daughter was at her mother's home where her father, Jeff Bott, was supposed to pick her up.

Nikki Bott said she was surprised when multiple officers, including Seekatz, arrived at her home shortly after her ex-husband.

She had not called police.

Henderson police documents said the officers arrived sometime between 10:43 p.m. and 10:50 p.m.

She recalls telling one officer that she thought her daughter's father had been drinking. After the officers -- which she said included on-duty and off-duty police -- assured her Jeff Bott wasn't drunk, the daughter went home with her father.

Only a few days later on Nov. 22, the Botts were in Family Court trying to settle custody issues involving their daughter.

Nikki Bott was astonished when her husband's lawyer produced an incident report written by Seekatz about the Nov. 19 stop at her home.

Seekatz said in the report that she appeared to be under the influence of opiates. It also said that Jeff Bott had admitted to drinking one 12-ounce beer that night.

The judge presiding over the case did not allow the Seekatz report to be admitted as evidence.

The incident rattled Nikki Bott.

"I was scared," she said.

Bott denied ever speaking to Seekatz that November night.

The Botts now share custody of their daughter.

Seekatz's incident report details his observations at Nikki Bott's home.

"While speaking with Nicole, I observed that she had an unsteady gait," according to the report, which mentions how Bott's eyes were bloodshot and appeared to move slowly and deliberately.

"Through my training and experience I know the aforementioned symptoms to be caused by being under the influence of a central nervous system depressant," Seekatz wrote. "From my training and experience, I felt that she was under the influence of an opiate."

The report ended: "This report was taken to document my observations and refresh my memory."

Nikki Bott steadfastly denies using opiates or any other drugs. She also provided the Review-Journal with results of a drug test of her hair, collected 12 days after Nov. 19.

The test results were negative for multiple drugs, including amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, and THC.

Bott's lawyer, Stacy Rocheleau, was at the custody hearing. She confirmed that Jeff Bott's lawyer tried to get the incident report admitted as evidence.

Rocheleau was astonished by Seekatz's statements against Nikki Bott in the report, noting that drug users typically have a lengthy, documented history. The report was the first time such allegations against her client had come up during the custody case.

Rocheleau found Seekatz's incident report suspicious. She said that one of the reasons the judge refused to accept it as evidence was because it was hearsay. Seekatz did not attend the hearing.

"Those are some pretty strong allegations," Rocheleau said.

Jeff Bott did not return calls for comment made through a Police Department spokesman.

TESTIMONY CHALLENGED

The man who filed a complaint against Seekatz requested anonymity because he fears retaliation from Henderson police. However, he provided documents detailing his claim that Seekatz lied on the stand and got him convicted of a misdemeanor charge for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The 29-year-old man filed an internal complaint against Seekatz on Oct. 26, 2010 -- three days before the incident with the motorist was caught on tape -- that spelled out his frustration with the sergeant.

"Brett Seekatz lied on the stand," the man wrote. "However, since his word was taken as fact I was convicted."

At the center of the man's complaint: Seekatz testified under oath that he obtained a confession from him about bringing alcohol to a party that included minors.

The man said that he and Seekatz never spoke together before the man was cited April 24, 2010, by a different Henderson police officer. The man was emphatic that he did not bring any alcohol to the party, which he said he attended for less than 30 minutes.

The judicial assistant for Henderson Municipal Judge Mark Stevens confirmed the judge presided over the case in question. Stevens could not be reached for comment.

Both Nikki Bott and the man provided the Review-Journal with letters from Henderson police that said their complaints were investigated.

The responses from Henderson police did not name Seekatz, but provided an internal affairs file number. Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul would not comment on the complaints, saying such issues are personnel matters.

The letters each complainant received were similar.

"Upon investigating this matter, it was determined that there was insufficient evidence or proof to support your allegation that the officer violated any Department policies or procedures based on the information that you provided to us," according to the letter to the 29-year-old man, who, after seeing the beating video, grew even more angered by Seekatz's actions against him. He wonders why Seekatz was allowed to retain his job.

"I don't think it's too far of a stretch after watching that video to prove that the man doesn't have a healthy respect for the laws he's paid to enforce," he said.

AFTERMATH OF A TRAFFIC STOP BEATING

Seekatz was disciplined for his actions in the traffic stop beating. But the consequences he faced have never been disclosed. He retained his rank of sergeant.

Paul said because Seekatz had been disciplined for his actions on the video, he would not be disciplined again. The internal complaints filed against Seekatz in 2010 will not be re-examined unless the complainants submit new information, he said.

Seekatz was hired by Henderson police in August 2002.

The Oct. 29, 2010, video shows Nevada Highway Patrol and Henderson officers mistaking a man suffering a diabetic episode for a drunken driver during a traffic stop at Lake Mead Parkway and Boulder Highway in Henderson.

A Nevada Highway Patrol camera video captured the beating. Highway Patrol troopers participated in the stop but did not participate in the beating.

During the early morning traffic stop, Adam Greene was driving to work about 4 a.m. when his blood sugar suddenly dropped and he became disoriented. His first memory of the night was standing outside a police car in handcuffs, the 38-year-old told the Review-Journal in February.

The video shows Seekatz kicking Greene in the head five times after he was taken to the ground by multiple officers.

Moments after Greene was secured, the officers found insulin in his pocket and quickly realized Greene was a diabetic.

Greene suffered broken ribs and bruises.

Bott said the video was disturbing.

She said because of the complaints against Seekatz and the beating video, she believes he is a danger to Henderson residents.

"I'm not sure why he's employed," she said.

The release of the video last month had stiff repercussions.

It led to Henderson and the state agreeing to settle with the family of the man who was kicked in the head for $292,500.

Former Henderson Police Chief Jutta Chambers announced her retirement effective Thursday , less than two weeks after the video was made public.

Late last month, newly appointed Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said he considered filing criminal charges against Seekatz, but that too much time had elapsed since the incident. He said it was not in the best interest of the community to charge Seekatz.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.